Bi-specific molecule against EGFR and death receptors simultaneously targets proliferation and death pathways in tumors.
ABSTRACT: Developing therapeutics that target multiple receptor signaling pathways in tumors is critical as therapies targeting single specific biomarker/pathway have shown limited efficacy in patients with cancer. In this study, we extensively characterized a bi-functional molecule comprising of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeted nanobody (ENb) and death receptor (DR) targeted ligand TRAIL (ENb-TRAIL). We show that ENb-TRAIL has therapeutic efficacy in tumor cells from different cancer types which do not respond to either EGFR antagonist or DR agonist monotherapies. Utilizing pharmacological inhibition, genetic loss of function and FRET studies, we show that ENb-TRAIL blocks EGFR signalling via the binding of ENb to EGFR which in turn induces DR5 clustering at the plasma membrane and thereby primes tumor cells to caspase-mediated apoptosis. In vivo, using a clinically relevant orthotopic resection model of primary glioblastoma and engineered stem cells (SC) expressing ENb-TRAIL, we show that the treatment with synthetic extracellular matrix (sECM) encapsulated SC-ENb-TRAIL alleviates tumor burden and significantly increases survival. This study is the first to report novel mechanistic insights into simultaneous targeting of receptor-mediated proliferation and cell death signaling pathways in different tumor types and presents a promising approach for translation into the clinical setting.
Project description:The deregulation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has a significant role in the progression of tumors. Despite the development of a number of EGFR-targeting agents that can arrest tumor growth, their success in the clinic is limited in several tumor types, particularly in the highly malignant glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). In this study, we generated and characterized EGFR-specific nanobodies (ENb) and imageable and proapoptotic ENb immunoconjugates released from stem cells (SC) to ultimately develop a unique EGFR-targeted therapy for GBM. We show that ENbs released from SCs specifically localize to tumors, inhibit EGFR signaling resulting in reduced GBM growth and invasiveness in vitro and in vivo in both established and primary GBM cell lines. We also show that ENb primes GBM cells for proapoptotic tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, SC-delivered immunoconjugates of ENb and TRAIL target a wide spectrum of GBM cell types with varying degrees of TRAIL resistance and significantly reduce GBM growth and invasion in both established and primary invasive GBM in mice. This study demonstrates the efficacy of SC-based EGFR targeted therapy in GBMs and provides a unique approach with clinical implications.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>MicroRNAs (miRs) are known to play a pivotal role in tumorigenesis, controlling cell proliferation and apoptosis. In this study, we investigated the potential of miR-7 to prime resistant tumor cells to apoptosis in glioblastoma (GBM).<h4>Methods</h4>We created constitutive and regulatable miR-7 expression vectors and utilized pharmacological inhibition of caspases and genetic loss of function to study the effect of forced expression of miR-7 on death receptor (DR) pathways in a cohort of GBM with established resistance to tumor necrosis factor apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) and in patient-derived primary GBM stem cell (GSC) lines. We engineered adeno-associated virus (AAV)-miR-7 and stem cell (SC) releasing secretable (S)-TRAIL and utilized real time in vivo imaging and neuropathology to understand the effect of the combined treatment of AAV-miR-7 and SC-S-TRAIL in vitro and in mouse models of GBM from TRAIL-resistant GSC.<h4>Results</h4>We show that expression of miR-7 in GBM cells results in downregulation of epidermal growth factor receptor and phosphorylated Akt and activation of nuclear factor-kappaB signaling. This leads to an upregulation of DR5, ultimately priming resistant GBM cells to DR-ligand, TRAIL-induced apoptotic cell death. In vivo, a single administration of AAV-miR-7 significantly decreases tumor volumes, upregulates DR5, and enables SC-delivered S-TRAIL to eradicate GBM xenografts generated from patient-derived TRAIL-resistant GSC, significantly improving survival of mice.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This study identifies the unique role of miR-7 in linking cell proliferation to death pathways that can be targeted simultaneously to effectively eliminate GBM, thus presenting a promising strategy for treating GBM.
Project description:Tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induces apoptosis specifically in tumor cells and its efficacy has been tested in pre-clinical models by delivering it systemically as a purified ligand or via engineered stem cells (SC). However, about 50% of tumor lines are resistant to TRAIL and overcoming TRAIL resistance in aggressive tumors, such as glioblastoma-multiforme (GBM), and understanding the molecular dynamics of TRAIL-based combination therapies are critical to broadly use TRAIL as a therapeutic agent. In this study, we developed death receptor (DR)4/5-reporters that offer an imaging-based platform to identify agents that act in concert with a potent, secretable variant of TRAIL (S-TRAIL) by monitoring changes in DR4/5 expression. Utilizing these reporters, we show a differential regulation of DR4/5 when exposed to a panel of clinically relevant agents. A histone deacetylase inhibitor, MS-275, resulted in upregulation of DR4/5 in all GBM cell lines, and these changes could be followed in real time both in vitro and in vivo in mice bearing tumors and they correlated with increased TRAIL sensitivity. To further assess the dynamics of combinatorial strategies that overcome resistance of tumors to SC released S-TRAIL, we also engineered tumor cells to express live-cell caspase-reporters and SCs to express S-TRAIL. Utilizing DR4/5 and caspase reporters in parallel, we show that MS-275 sensitizes TRAIL-resistant GBM cells to stem cell (SC) delivered S-TRAIL by changing the time-to-death in vitro and in vivo. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of a combination of real-time reporters of TRAIL-induced apoptosis pathway in evaluating the efficacy of SC-TRAIL-based therapeutics and may have implications in targeting a broad range of cancers.
Project description:TRAIL is a death receptor ligand that induces cell death preferentially in tumor cells. Recombinant soluble TRAIL, however, performs poorly as an anti-cancer therapeutic because oligomerization is required for potent biological activity. We previously generated a diabody format of tumor-targeted TRAIL termed Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL, comprising single-stranded TRAIL molecules (scTRAIL) and the variable domains of a humanized variant of the EGFR blocking antibody Cetuximab. Here we define the bioactivity of Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL with regard to both EGFR inhibition and TRAIL receptor activation in 3D cultures of Caco-2 colorectal cancer cells, which express wild-type K-Ras. Compared with conventional 2D cultures, Caco-2 cells displayed strongly enhanced sensitivity toward Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL in these 3D cultures. We show that the antibody moiety of Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL not only efficiently competed with ligand-induced EGFR function, but also determined the apoptotic response by specifically directing Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL to EGFR-positive cells. To address how aberrantly activated K-Ras, which leads to Cetuximab resistance, affects Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL sensitivity, we generated stable Caco-2tet cells inducibly expressing oncogenic K-Ras(G12V). In the presence of doxycycline, these cells showed increased resistance to Db(?EGFR-sc)TRAIL, associated with the elevated expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins cIAP2, Bcl-xL and FlipS. Co-treatment of cells with the Smac mimetic SM83 restored the Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL-induced apoptotic response. Importantly, this synergy between Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL and SM83 also translated to 3D cultures of oncogenic K-Ras expressing HCT-116 and LoVo colorectal cancer cells. Our findings thus support the notion that Db(?EGFR)-scTRAIL therapy in combination with apoptosis-sensitizing agents may be promising for the treatment of EGFR-positive colorectal cancers, independently of their KRAS status.
Project description:Tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced apoptosis specifically in tumor cells. However, with approximately half of all known tumor lines being resistant to TRAIL, the identification of TRAIL sensitizers and their mechanism of action become critical to broadly use TRAIL as a therapeutic agent. In this study, we explored whether c-Met protein contributes to TRAIL sensitivity. We found a direct correlation between the c-Met expression level and TRAIL resistance. We show that the knock down c-Met protein, but not inhibition, sensitized brain tumor cells to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis by interrupting the interaction between c-Met and TRAIL cognate death receptor (DR) 5. This interruption greatly induces the formation of death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) and subsequent downstream apoptosis signaling. Using intracranially implanted brain tumor cells and stem cell (SC) lines engineered with different combinations of fluorescent and bioluminescent proteins, we show that SC expressing a potent and secretable TRAIL (S-TRAIL) have a significant anti-tumor effect in mice bearing c-Met knock down of TRAIL-resistant brain tumors. To our best knowledge, this is the first study that demonstrates c-Met contributes to TRAIL sensitivity of brain tumor cells and has implications for developing effective therapies for brain tumor patients.
Project description:Therapeutically engineered stem cells have shown promise for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) therapy; however, key preclinical studies are urgently needed for their clinical translation. In this study, we investigated a new approach to GBM treatment using therapeutic stem cells encapsulated in biodegradable, synthetic extracellular matrix (sECM) in mouse models of human GBM resection. Using multimodal imaging, we first showed quantitative surgical debulking of human GBM tumors in mice, which resulted in increased survival. Next, sECM encapsulation of engineered stem cells increased their retention in the tumor resection cavity, permitted tumor-selective migration and release of diagnostic and therapeutic proteins in vivo. Simulating the clinical scenario of GBM treatment, the release of tumor-selective S-TRAIL (secretable tumor necrosis factor apoptosis inducing ligand) from sECM-encapsulated stem cells in the resection cavity eradicated residual tumor cells by inducing caspase-mediated apoptosis, delayed tumor regrowth and significantly increased survival of mice. This study demonstrates the efficacy of encapsulated therapeutic stem cells in mouse models of GBM resection and may have implications for developing effective therapies for GBM.
Project description:Lapatinib, a dual HER2/EGFR (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2/epidermal growth factor receptor) inhibitor, is a recently approved targeted therapy for metastatic breast cancer. Because lapatinib enhances the efficacy of the chemotherapeutic agent capecitabine in breast cancer patients, we tested whether lapatinib also enhances the activity of anticancer agents in colorectal cancer. We found that lapatinib improved the proapoptotic effects of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and two TRAIL receptor agonists, the antibodies mapatumumab and lexatumumab. Tumors from mice treated with a combination of lapatinib and TRAIL exhibited more immunostaining for cleaved caspase-8, a marker of the extrinsic cell death pathway, than did tumors from mice treated with lapatinib or TRAIL alone. Furthermore, combination therapy suppressed tumor growth more effectively than either agent alone. Lapatinib up-regulated the proapoptotic TRAIL death receptors DR4 and DR5, leading to more efficient induction of apoptosis in the presence of TRAIL receptor agonists. This activity of lapatinib was independent of EGFR and HER2. The off-target induction of DR5 by lapatinib resulted from activation of the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK)/c-Jun signaling axis. This activity of lapatinib on TRAIL death receptor expression and signaling may confer therapeutic benefit when increased doses of lapatinib are used in combination with TRAIL receptor-activating agents.
Project description:Attempts to exploit the cytotoxic activity of death receptors (DR) for treating cancer have thus far been disappointing. DR activation in most malignant cells fails to trigger cell death and may even promote tumor growth by activating cell death-independent DR-associated signaling pathways. Overcoming apoptosis resistance is consequently a prerequisite for successful clinical exploitation of DR stimulation. Here we show that hyperosmotic stress in the tumor microenvironment unleashes the deadly potential of DRs by enforcing BCL-2 addiction of cancer cells. Hypertonicity robustly enhanced cytotoxicity of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and other DR ligands in various cancer entities. Initial events in TRAIL DR signaling remained unaffected, but hypertonic conditions unlocked activation of the mitochondrial death pathway and thus amplified the apoptotic signal. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that hyperosmotic stress imposed a BCL-2-addiction on cancer cells to safeguard the integrity of the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM), essentially exhausting the protective capacity of BCL-2-like pro-survival proteins. Deprivation of these mitochondrial safeguards licensed DR-generated truncated BH3-interacting domain death agonist (tBID) to activate BCL-2-associated X protein (BAX) and initiated mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP). Our work highlights that hyperosmotic stress in the tumor environment primes mitochondria for death and lowers the threshold for DR-induced apoptosis. Beyond TRAIL-based therapies, our findings could help to strengthen the efficacy of other apoptosis-inducing cancer treatment regimens.
Project description:Multiple clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate the potential antitumor activity of human TNF variants, Fas ligand (FasL), TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) and its agonistic antibodies. These drug products act through the death receptors (DRs) TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1), Fas/CD95, DR4 (TRAIL-R1) and/or DR5 (TRAIL-R2), respectively. Therefore, characterization of the level and localization of DR expression in cancer cells is important for DR-targeted therapy. In this study, we examined the subcellular distribution of the four DRs in a panel of 10 human breast cancer cell lines by western blots and flow cytometry and 50 human breast tumors by immunohistochemistry. Despite their total protein expressions, the DRs were found to be absent on the surface of some cell lines. Consistent with this result, all four DRs were found to be mostly expressed in the cytoplasm and/or the nucleus of primary breast tumors (n=50). We further determined the growth inhibition activity (GI50) of the death ligands, recombinant human TNF?, FasL and TRAIL, and found a correlation with the subcellular localization of the corresponding DRs. These results demonstrate an aberrant expression of the death receptors in breast cancer cells, and suggest that the lack of surface DRs appears to be predictive of tumor resistance to DR-targeted therapies.
Project description:Death receptors of the TNF family are found on the surface of most cancer cells and their activation typically kills cancer cells through the stimulation of the extrinsic apoptotic pathway. The endogenous ligand for death receptors 4 and 5 (DR4 and DR5) is TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, TRAIL (Apo2L). As most untransformed cells are not susceptible to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, death receptor activators have emerged as promising cancer therapeutic agents. One strategy to stimulate death receptors in cancer patients is to use soluble human recombinant TRAIL protein, but this agent has limitations of a short half-life and decoy receptor sequestration. Another strategy that attempted to evade decoy receptor sequestration and to provide improved pharmacokinetic properties was to generate DR4 or DR5 agonist antibodies. The resulting monoclonal agonist antibodies overcame the limitations of short half-life and avoided decoy receptor sequestration, but are limited by activating only one of the two death receptors. Here, we describe a DR4 and DR5 dual agonist produced using Surrobody technology that activates both DR4 and DR5 to induce apoptotic death of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo and also avoids decoy receptor sequestration. This fully human anti-DR4/DR5 Surrobody displays superior potency to DR4- and DR5-specific antibodies, even when combined with TRAIL-sensitizing proapoptotic agents. Moreover, cancer cells were less likely to acquire resistance to Surrobody than either anti-DR4 or anti-DR5 monospecific antibodies. Taken together, Surrobody shows promising preclinical proapoptotic activity against cancer cells, meriting further exploration of its potential as a novel cancer therapeutic agent.